In the email Skorton writes: “Quality medical, mental health, education and prevention services play a critical role in student well-being and, therefore, success. Yet funding these services – and creating access to them for all students – has been a growing fiscal challenge, and a personal concern of mine… Although introducing a new fee is never desirable, moving to a model that includes a health fee – a standard in college health nationwide – will make student costs more predictable and encourage them to seek the care they need.” The full email can be viewed below.
The University will levy the fee on all students opting out of purchasing SHIP regardless of whether or not they use Gannett, the on-campus health center. In the email, Skorton writes that for most visits, students will pay a $10 copay. The email does not mention any changes to the price of SHIP, which costed $2352 for the 2014-2015 academic year according to the Office of Student Health Insurance. SHIP is not required of Cornell students; many opt-out because they have health insurance already.
SHIP is administered via Aetna, a health insurance provider. Aetna’s CEO, Mike Bertolini ’84, is a Cornell MBA grad.
In September 2013 the Cornell Daily Sun reported Gannett was trying to fundraise $18.3 million via donations for a $55 million expansion and renovation project to be completed in 2017. The same report quotes Vice President Susan Murphy ’73 Ph.D. ’94 saying that fundraising would need to be completed by January 2015 in order for the renovations and expansions to go through. There have been so reports of late with updates on the status of this funding.
At the Student Assembly meeting, Skorton was asked by an audience member about Gannett’s deficit, which originated during the 2009-10 school year when the campus experienced a rash of suicides and an H1N1 virus scare. This put large strains on campus health services, according to Skorton, and the decision to increase staff, including mental health professionals, created a deficit that still exists today. In response to the question, Skorton was indirect, admitting “some of that” of money would go to the deficit, but it was unclear if “that” was a reference to the fee itself.